While the majority of trade speculation has centered around wide receiver Amari Cooper, it appears the Dallas Cowboys are close to trading another star.
The official start to the 2022 league year is fast approaching on March 16, which means trade and free agency moves have been heating up. While other teams like the Denver Broncos have made big splashes, the Cowboys are waiting in the wings, moving money around through contract restructures, fielding offers for players and signing role players like WR Noah Brown.
One of the players who has interest from opposing teams is offensive tackle La’el Collins. According to NFL media insider Ian Rapoport, Dallas is actively discussing a trade with other teams involving the 28-year-old lineman.
“The #Cowboys are having active trade conversations centered around starting OT La’el Collins, sources say,” Rapoport wrote on Twitter. “A mainstay since 2015, Collins is due $10M this coming year and there is interest from other teams.”
Collins has been a rock on the offensive line alongside the likes of guard Zack Martin and tackle Tyron Smith, but the Cowboys could use the cap space to maintain and enhance the rest of the roster.
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Collins Leaving Makes Sense for the Cowboys
Spotrac estimates that the Cowboys are still $1.15 million over budget despite restructuring Martin and Prescott’s contracts, partially due to Dallas placing the franchise tag on tight end Dalton Schultz, which means he’s getting $10.93 million in 2022.
Collins is due $10,000,000 but Spotrac explains that Dallas trading the former LSU Tiger before March 20 can save the team $6.48 million in space this year. That’s not an astronomical amount of money, but a sizable chunk that can help pay someone like wide receiver Michael Gallup if he comes back on an extended contract.
It’s also worth noting that Collins has an understudy ready to step up in Terence Steele. According to PFR, Steele started a total of 13 games last season and 14 in 2020, establishing himself as capable at the NFL level despite going undrafted in the 2020 NFL draft.
Blogging the Boys writer Dan Rogers made an interesting point on how the Cowboys offense has been better when Steele was playing in place of Collins in 2021, who only started 10 games.
“With Terence Steele at right tackle, the Cowboys were 6-1 last season with the offense putting up 380+ yards in ALL of THEM,” Rogers Tweeted. “The Cowboys had seven games last year with under 380 yards of offense. La’el Collins played right tackle in ALL of THEM.”
When you consider that Steele is only a $898,334 total cap hit this year, it just makes sense to send Collins on his way.
Cooper Trade Talks Underway
As mentioned above, the other trade conversations the Cowboys appear to be having center around Cooper. If the Cowboys trade him or cut him by the 21st, they’ll save $16 million in cap space.
They’d obviously prefer to get something for the star receiver rather than release him, and NFL Network’s Jane Slater says that conversations over a trade are actively happening.
“Don’t expect news on Amari Cooper until we get closer to the 5th day of the league year?” Slater wrote. “Why? I’m told the #Cowboys have been fielding some calls. Advantage for teams? You don’t battle for him on open market. They get to redo the deal and can spread money out via signing bonus.”
So, it sounds like nothing will happen officially until close to the deadline, but that there are still moves in the works. Cooper seems to be on the outs either way, but Dallas is at least avoiding the worst case scenario of cutting him without anything in return.